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June 10, 2005

Snapshot: Father Ronald Lemmert

FatherlemmertPrison chaplain at Sing Sing prison, he testified, with Glenn Harris’s permission, that Harris confessed to him his role as the unwitting getaway driver for Joey "Guns" Creedon and Peter Kent.  Harris also  confided in him his reasons to plead the fifth: people had threatened him in the Suffolk County jail, saying, “We know where your children are,” and “an investigator from the DA’s office said he would spend his life in prison,” testified the father. 

After Assistant District Attorney Leonard Lato stated in March, "Marty Tankleff killed his parents and the misfits that Tankleff's attorneys have dredged up cannot change that," Father Lemmert responded with this statement:

"I really didn't know anything about this case until I met Glen Harris in Sing
Sing.  When he explained his dilemma, wanting to do the right thing but being
afraid to do so, I was simply doing my job as a priest, urging him to tell the
truth.  I continued to urge him to do so even when he told me he was being
threatened by the District Attorney's Office.

"When he refused to testify due to his fear for his safety and the safety of his
children, I agreed to testify about what he had told me, and I had his
permission to do so.  So I dropped everything that I was doing and came down
here on a moment's notice.  I did so under the impression that a court of law
would be interested in hearing what I had to say.

"But instead, I found out last week that the prosecutor had labeled me as a
misfit!  That is strange, because some of the witnesses called by the
prosecution were career criminals, and he expected us to believe them as if they
were upright pillars of the community!  But because we presented a different
side to the story, Mr. Lato publicly slandered us.  To call this insulting is an
understatement! 

"But after calming down somewhat, I would suggest that this outrageous comment to the news media last week was more of a reflection on Mr. Lato's character, (or lack thereof) than it was a reflection of the character of all of us who were simply doing our civic duty to tell the court whatever information we had that might be helpful in this case.

"I would have thought that a prosecutor, who is hired by the people to represent
them in the quest for justice, would be eager to hear what we have to say.  Obviously, that is not the case here, which makes me wonder why he is so afraid of listening to us.  I understand that Suffolk County has had a long and sordid history of political corruption.  From the way Mr. Lato has been prosecuting this case, his very unprofessional conduct in slandering witnesses suggests to me that the history of corruption here is alive and well.  I just pray that more people would have the courage to come forward and expose it.  Being labeled a misfit by someone of Mr. Lato's small stature is a small price to pay for seeking truth and justice."

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